These days, retirement destinations include locations around the world. In polls of top retirement locations, it’s just as likely to find spots in Latin America, Southeast Asia, and South Africa as it is North America and Europe. Americans who have already worked overseas have grown accustomed to expatriate living; for such people, it may be easy to decide to continue living overseas. For others whose jobs have kept them homebound for decades, living overseas may seem like a chance at an extended holiday abroad. In either case, retirement options overseas are more abundant than ever before.
Retire to Latin America
Many countries in Latin America have welcomed retirees from the United States and Canada for many years now; Costa Rica in particular has been retiree-friendly, but Panama, Nicaragua, and other countries in Central America are finding that retirees from wealthier countries can add an important boost to their own economies. Retiring in these developing countries can be an adventure; if you’re resourceful, you can go it alone, but many companies in North America offer packages, placing people in retirement resorts where many day-to-day needs are managed on your behalf. But remember, the attraction of living overseas should be to adapt to local circumstances, and to learn to appreciate local cuisine, culture, and so on. Particularly if you’re living in an “expat ghetto,” get out to the local markets, make local friends, and above all learn to speak Spanish.
(Koh Tao beach in Thailand)
Southeast Asia is Amazing
Southeast Asia is becoming more popular as a retirement destination, for Europeans and growing numbers of Americans. Malaysia, Thailand, and the Philippines in particular welcome foreign retirees, although citizens of foreign countries may face hurdles in land ownership and other issues. There are substantial expat communities in Thailand’s beach communities as well as in Chiang Mai in the north; for those who live like the locals, expenses can be minimal.
Conditions in the Philippines may not be as developed as in Thailand, but most Filipinos speak fluent English, and you’re less likely to face the hoards of foreign tourists you find in Thailand. Malaysians, likewise, speak fluent English, and living conditions are quite modern, particularly in the cities and especially in adjacent Singapore.
Europe Can Be Expensive
More and more Europeans are discovering South Africa; this long-troubled country has an unfortunate reputation for violent crime, but conditions are improving, particularly around Cape Town, where most foreigners end up settling. The country’s coastlines are spectacular, and golfers in particular will find a lot to like, with high-quality courses throughout the country.
For North Americans, Europe has long been appealing as a retirement destination, particularly France and Italy but now Portugal, Spain, Greece, and other Mediterranean countries. Unfortunately, Europe is expensive; Americans may find they can afford a better quality of life in Costa Rica or Thailand than they can in Italy. But conditions vary, and the euro and dollar are in constant fluctuation. As of autumn 2011, properties in Ireland were quite affordable, as that country was mired in economic crisis. Greece and countries in eastern Europe may be more affordable as well.
Once you’re settled abroad, you may find that traveling back home every so often becomes a major expense. Look for senior travel discounts and other perks to help ease the burden. And enjoy your new life overseas!